Guitar Lessons Are Not Shiny Objects
by Allen Hopgood
Compared to pre-internet days, there is so much stuff out there for you to learn guitar easier than ever before. There are ridiculous amounts of learning resources either on the net, in DVD format, books, lessons, apps and courses in many formats. While there is no shortage of material, either good, great and bad, there is a problem that most people who are learning the guitar, suffer from.
They’re learning too much at the one time, from different things – and not for the right amount of time.
Many students of the guitar, get lessons either from an in-person teacher, invest into online lessons, and still go searching for more material to learn. Without doing the one thing they really need to do – stick with it until they can do it. I’m not saying to stay on the same lesson for months on end. That would make for really slow progress. What I’m suggesting is, if you are getting lessons from a teacher, do what they say to do. Learn what they say to learn in the way they say to learn it.
You’ve probably heard of the old stories of young guitar players peering in the window of a crowded bar just to catch a glimpse of a guitar player trying to see them play just one lick. Then they would go home and practice what they could remember – over and over again, until they got it. While it’s easier for guitarists to learn in today’s environment, why should the principle of learning be different?
Are you doing this?
If you get guitar lessons (you should be) don’t go looking for video after video online to find something else to do. Don’t waste money on book after book. Don’t purchase guitar magazines just to get the latest ‘play like your favourite guitar hero’ feature.
If you are doing these activities, over and above your weekly guitar lessons, you are chasing shiny objects. Getting caught in the glitz and the glamour of new material, without mastering any of it. It is a slow confusing road to follow that will take you off on so many side roads, detours and setbacks that will stunt your playing progress.
Studying your guitar lesson material, over and over practicing it until you can get it, is the only cure and the fastest path forward. Have you really got everything down under your fingers that you have received from your lessons? I could safely bet no.
As humans we want new things to stimulate us. This is natural. But should we really be looking far and wide, not knowing what is good for our development, or commit to learning – really learning what we already have?
You invest your money into a teacher who knows what the best things are for you to be learning right now. Yet you’re on the net every week, purchasing a new learning resource or similar, thinking you will get better by learning more. No. You only get better by doing the same stuff over and over again until you don’t have to think about it. If you get it done in between your lessons, great. If not that’s okay too. You stay and persist, until…
Think about this…
When you first learnt the alphabet in school, did they take you on a journey where you learnt how to understand other languages?. When you learnt multiplication tables, were you studying long division at the same time? Again no. So why do you think learning the guitar is different?
When you jump from one video, to a book or magazine column, as well as getting lessons that’s exactly what you’re doing. But they look so good, I hear you say. Yes they do. All of them are dressed up, shiny and alluring. Polished and attractive to drag you in, to take you off course from where you’re meant to be right now.
Another down side is that, because the big shiny object(s) are beyond most people’s skill level, it adds frustration into the mix. You don’t feel good enough. You think you can’t do it. You’ll never be able to play it. Pointless and useless doubts and fears creep in that wouldn’t be there if you just leave the shiny things alone and concentrate on the real gold you have from your guitar lessons.
Your teacher has been where you are right now. They have felt the same frustrations as you. They know from experience how to get around them quickly and move forward. This is their job of teaching you to minimise the setbacks and get you playing better guitar, faster.
I’m not saying the guitar players and teachers, who do those videos and books you watch and purchase, don’t have experience. They do. The difference is though, they don’t know you like your teacher knows you. They don’t know your skill level. They don’t know your playing aspirations. They can’t tell you if their video or book etc. is right for you, right now.
Plus, not only do you not know if the material is good for you, you have already invested money into lessons, that you’re wasting that investment because you’re not making the most of it. Does that make sense?
The moral of the story is, leave the shiny objects alone and dig into your guitar lessons where the real gold is…
About Allen Hopgood: Allen Hopgood is a guitar teacher and guitar teaching business entrepreneur on the Gold Coast, QLD Australia. Having honed his chops and cut his teeth learning to play guitar in bands that supported various national and international musical acts, he is now dedicated to producing amazing experiences for all of his guitar playing students.